Twelfth Day

Today is Twelfth Day, the day after Twelfth Night and the traditional end to the Christmas festivities. Twelfth Day or the Epiphany marks the day the wise men arrived to present their gifts to the baby Jesus.

800px-Twelfth001During the Regency, Twelfth Night, the eve of the Epiphany, would have been a time for parties and balls, for drinking wassail. One feature of such parties would be a cake into which a bean was baked. Whoever found the bean became the Lord of Misrule.

In preparation for Twelfth Night, the confectioners shops put on elaborate displays of Twelfth Night cakes, which could cost anywhere from several guineas to a few shillings. In Chambers Book of Days, he states: “We remember to have seen a huge Twelfth-cake in the form of a fortress, with sentinels and flags; the cake being so large as to fill two ovens in baking.”

Robert_Baddeley_as_Moses_in_Sheridan's_'The_School_for_Scandal'_c1781,_by_Johann_ZoffanyChambers also tells of another Twelfth Night tradition. In 1795, the will of comedian Robert Baddeley made a bequest of one hundred pounds to provide cake and punch each year to the performers at Drury Lane Theatre. It is a tradition that continues at the theatre today.

On Twelfth Day all Christmas decorations  the traditional day to remove all your Christmas decorations. In Regency times all the greenery gathered to decorate the house would be taken down and burned. To leave decorations up after this date would be considered bad luck.

I took down and packed away all my decorations last Friday.

Have you taken your decorations down yet?

A Marriage of Notoriety is now available in ebook as well as paperback.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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4 Responses to Twelfth Day

  1. Yes it’s all packed up. Even the string of lights we had on for the last time today. We always keep this tradition. Aswell as the one of baking a three Kings Bread with a hidden bean in it. (I have a cool picture of it on my blog) This year my father got the bean & so he was announced King :D When we where kids, my sister and
    I would every year be the ones who shared the bean & therefor both wore a paper crown. Back then I never suspected a thing. Now, thinking about it makes me smile!

  2. Elena Greene says:

    I usually try to put ours away around this time, but our tree is still up. It’s an insanely busy week, but my plan is to rope everyone in to work 10 minutes a day on it, with the hope that we’ll have the job done by the end of the week. Crossing fingers!

    I love the idea of more cake and celebrations but I have done a lot of baking and eating lately, so maybe not…

  3. Decorations are still visible, everywhere. Some won’t be put away because they were gifts. Of course, I also listen to Christmas carols all year long, so… Thanks for the bit of history. Saving the post to help me prepare for next year. :-)

  4. I could really go for some wassail tonight :))

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